The concept of friendship seems to be a changing and fluid one in the “modern” age of social networking. So often today, one measures self-esteem and worth by the number of one’s friends on Facebook or followers on Twitter. These tools provide a remarkable way to keep in touch with those from earlier times of life. Yet, in their “virtual reality” they pose such a danger in maintaining and developing real friendships. As with all things, the Gift of Friendship comes from God; and today, we will examine what it means to be a “Good Steward” of this wonderful gift.
A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity. (Proverbs 17:17)
What does it mean to be someone’s “true” friend? I am reminded of a simple colloquialism hanging as a refrigerator magnet: “A friend is someone who knows all about you, but likes you anyway.” Such is the nature of true friendship. Its heart is sacrificial—a true friend asks nothing for himself. She does not judge, nor does she portray herself as better than you, but instead offers a shoulder to cry on, a shared laugh, a helping hand during a big move. Like the Proverb says, a true friend does not ever leave, but remains constant. Lest we confuse constancy—this doesn’t mean continuing to comment on one’s posts! Rather, it means sharing a cup of tea with her who grieves over her husband’s death. Or holding the hand of him who just learned he has prostate cancer. Or, rejoicing with him who is celebrating a promotion at work.
“Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15: 13).
How many of us are willing to die for the sake of our friends? I know that some parents are certainly willing to die for their children, but what about a friend? Many would put restrictions and stipulations on such a large sacrifice… Yet, this is the nature of the sacrificial love to which we are all called in our baptism! When we put on Christ, we are called to love one another, just as our Lord loves us. We sinners, who consistently turn away from God in our sinfulness, are all loved so incredibly, that Christ died for us. This was even though we are rejecting Him in our daily lives. Christ still chose to die for us. His love for us is just that great!
So what do we do with this love? How do we exercise the Stewardship of sacrificial love in our friendships? We are loved sacrificially—so loved that we are called to partake in Christ so that we too might be re-united with God—and not just be servants or slaves of God…but sons!
One way to live out this sacrificial love amongst our friends is to be physically present for them. “Your friend, and your father’s friend, do not forsake; and do not go to your brother’s house in the day of your calamity. Better is a neighbor who is near than a brother who is far away” (Proverbs 27:10). Our friendships have the potential to be greater even than our familial relationships. Dedicate time to cherish our friends and to give thanks to God for them.
Another way to exercise Christian Stewardship over our friendships is to pray with and for our friends. What a novel idea! When we gather with friends, we should not be embarrassed to pray together. Just like in marriage, nothing strengthens a friendship like praying for one another.
Now is the time for us all to exhibit Christian Stewardship in our friendships. Now is the time for us to offer our friends to God in prayer, giving thanks for the blessing of their presence in our lives. Our Lord did the same for His disciples, Whom he called His friends—can we do anything less?
Now is the time to offer our time to nurture and care for those God has brought into our lives, just as it is time for us to nurture and care for the blessed community of believers—the Church!
May our Lord, God and Savior Jesus Christ, His Father, Who is without beginning, and the Co-eternal and Life-Creating Spirit continue to strengthen all of our friendships, utilizing them as a help to teach us sacrificial love, so that we might glorify Them in love, always and forever!